You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

Warriors utility Dylan Walker has implored the club’s injury-hit interchange to step up as they look to end a three-match winless run this Sunday against the Knights in Newcastle.  

For the second week in a row the Warriors got out to an early lead and dominated the opening quarter of the match in Round 8, before losing momentum at the point in which their starting pack's opening stints came to an end. 

On ANZAC Day they raced out to a 12-point lead after eight minutes, which soon evaporated once senior props Addin Fonua-Blake and Mitch Barnett left the field, with the Warriors leaking 17 of the 27 points they gave up to the Gold Coast during that period. 

While the interchange was used differently in the Round 7 loss to the Dragons, with a member of the starting front row always in the game, it was around the same time in the match that a similar drop off began after a dominant opening. 

Walker, who has carved a reputation as one of the competition's best interchange players in recent years, told that no side should be having to be chase points after such positive starts, with some of the blame for that sitting with the bench. 

It's an attitude thing at the end of the day, our starters have started really well and that's probably [on] us on the bench to try to hold on to that momentum.

Dylan Walker

“It shouldn’t be like that where you are chasing points after being 12-0 up.

"The bench is definitely going to be important [this week] and I think it's important in all aspects.

"You just want to win those periods and it's another challenge for us to get better at.

“There are little moments in these games, whether it be a dropped ball, back-to-back errors; that’s what is killing us at the moment.”

Long-term injuries to bench regulars Marata Niukore, Jazz Tevaga, Bunty Afoa (who is set to return in Round 9) and Chanel Harris-Tavita – plus the absence of Freddy Lussick due to suspension – has forced coach Andrew Webster to reach deep into his roster to fill the void. 

Rookie back-rower Jacob Laban has averaged 29 minutes per game over the past month, 20-year-old Zyon Maiu'u made his debut on ANZAC Day, while hooker Paul Roache – who isn’t contracted to the NRL side as a top 30 or supplementary player this year – has been used in each of the past two weeks.  

After playing three games in the space of 13 days between Round 6-8, which included a trip across the Tasman to play the Dragons, the Warriors were given three days off following the loss to the Titans last Thursday. 

While at pains to ensure the busy schedule wasn’t used as an excuse for recent performances, Webster said the extended break between games was exactly what the doctor ordered. 

Tuivasa-Sheck: We have to fix our defence

“Sometimes a six or five-day turnaround can be exactly what you need, but this is what we need right now, we needed 10 days between games and seven days of practice," Webster said. 

“We get on the field four times this week to build combinations and get our fundamentals back… it's an advantage this week."

The Warriors, who in addition to bringing Afoa back from a hamstring injury are set to have Kurt Capewell (throat) return in the back row, are one of several clubs who welcome back experienced personnel from layoffs in Round 9. 

The Dolphins have representative back-rowers Felise Kaufusi and Connelly Lemuelu back on deck after long periods out and Queensland neighbours the Broncos are boosted by the return of five-eighth Ezra Mam and centre Selwyn Cobbo. 

The Raiders meanwhile have captain Elliott Whitehead available for the first time since Round 3 to take on the Sea Eagles. 

Acknowledgement of Country

The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

Principal Partner

Major Partners

Official Sponsors

View All Partners